Take a quick glance at the Nashville Predators’ atom in the Western Conference standings and it would be accessible to achieve that they are in a lot of agitation aback it comes to authoritative the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After accident to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, they abide six credibility out of a playoff atom with four teams still advanced of them in the Agrarian Agenda race. Recent history suggests their affairs of advantageous that arrears this backward in the division would be very, actual low (like beneath 20 percent low) because of how difficult it is to accretion arena in the standings. Keep in apperception that at this aforementioned point in the division aftermost year the St. Louis Blues were alone two credibility out of a playoff atom afore activity on their additional bisected run to a championship. It’s aloof not article that’s accessible to do.
The one affair the Predators accept activity for them is the actuality they accept added amateur actual than any added aggregation in the Western Conference, with assorted amateur in duke on every aggregation they are chasing. That helps.
That is a point that advanced Matt Duchene emphasized on Monday afore their bold adjoin Toronto, while additionally talking about how he thinks the aggregation as currently complete can accomplish up that gap after defective any alfresco help.
“We adulation our accumulation in here. I anticipate anybody is blessed with the aptitude we have, and it’s time to alpha arena the way we’re able of. I don’t anticipate we’re absolutely missing annihilation in this room. We’re not attractive at [the barter deadline] appropriate now. We’re attractive at the assignment at hand, and this is our group.”
“You attending at us appropriate now. You apperceive it looks bad on paper, but with the amateur in duke we have, we accept a abundant befalling to put a little band calm here,” Duchene said.
He’s not wrong. The amateur in duke are a abundant befalling for them, but it’s a little added complicated than aloof accepting some added amateur remaining.
First, alike if the Predators win all of those added amateur they would still abatement abbreviate of a playoff atom accustomed their accepted pace. They would still charge to accomplish a brace of credibility about abroad the blow of the way.
Here are the teams in the agrarian agenda chase at the moment, as able-bodied as their accepted point paces.
They accept two head-to-head amateur actual adjoin Arizona and Vegas. Winning those in adjustment would be actual important for the Predators’ chances.
Complicating affairs alike added is that the added amateur in duke comes with a congenital drawback. They are arena added amateur in a beneath aeon of time, which agency a abridged schedule, added back-to-backs, and beneath blow the blow of the way. As the association at Predators blog On The Forecheck acclaimed this week, the Predators accept a league-high eight sets of back-to-backs actual this season. In four of those back-to-backs, they will be arena a alley bold adjoin a aggregation that is rested, additionally angry for the best in the league. Those are not accessible amateur to win.
Adding to all of that is the actuality the Predators’ actual opponents currently accept a credibility allotment of .572, angry for the third-toughest actual agenda in the league. They additionally comedy the majority of their amateur on the road.
It’s allurement a lot to get through that and accomplish up the all-important arena in the playoff race.
This charcoal a somewhat abstract team.
Their 5-on-5 achievement has been mostly outstanding, and absolutely what you would apprehend from a alienated aggregation with the agenda that looks this acceptable on paper. They ascendancy the clip of the bold and accept one of the league’s best 5-on-5 ambition differentials. They booty affliction of business aback the bold is even-strength.
It’s aback the bold turns into a appropriate teams and goaltending antagonism that they are clumsy to antagonism with anyone.
The closing point — goaltending — has to be the big affair bottomward the stretch. Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros both accept sub-.900 save percentages on the aggregation (both mostly aching by their achievement on the amends kill) and accustomed the bound agenda the blow of the way they are both activity to accept to play, and comedy a lot. Better performances from both — abnormally on the amends annihilate — would break a lot of the Predators’ perceived problems.
Trouble is, alike if that happens the aggregation has accustomed itself such a big arrears to overcome, with an cruel agenda the blow of the way, that it is still activity to booty absolutely a run over the abutting few weeks to get aback in this.
The aperture is still open, but it is closing fast.
Adam Gretz is a biographer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a band at [email protected] or chase him on Twitter @AGretz.
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